Productivity apps with weird gimmicks that totally obfuscate their usability do not impress me one bit. I’ve seen my fair share lately, too, from the Carrot iPhone app (99 cents, 2.5 stars), which tries to bully you into completing your to-do list, to the Clear iPhone app (99 cents, 2 stars), which dazzles the user with color and interactive gestures, but doesn’t consider the very basics things a task management app should do. Considering the competition, the iPhone app 24me (free) was a breath of fresh air among a bunch of wheezing losers.
The best way to describe 24me is to call it an enhanced to-do app. I’ll get to the enhancements, but I need to first point out that it gets the to-do part right. All the obvious functionality that I expect from a task-manager are present and fully operational in 24me. When you write a to-do that’s too long to display on screen, it will scroll so you can read it. Tasks can have notes attached to them, as well as due dates and a reminder alarm. (What a sad state of affairs that praising an app for working as expected warrants mention. Sigh.)
24me’s enhancements come in the form of connectivity and assistance—linking to Facebook, for example, to remind you of friends’ upcoming birthdays, hooking into TaskRabbit so you can outsource small odd jobs to willing workers in your area, and connecting to service providers to alert you of upcoming bills. Sadly, it doesn’t connect with big storage and synchronization players Evernote and Google Drive, which many apps do, if only for folks to use them as a backup method for their to-dos.
Bugs and Bumps
24me didn’t always work smoothly for me (more on that below), but it’s on target and is covering the right bases. In some ways, it’s similar to EasilyDo iPhone app (free, 4 stars), an app that surfaces important information and largely automates what you need to do with it to be a productive and efficient person. My favorite EasilyDo function (taking contact details from an email sender and adding them to my address book for me) isn’t present in 24me, but, then again, EasilyDo doesn’t have the financial component that 24me has. Other functions, such as posting a message and adding an optional gift card to your Facebook friends when their birthdays are approaching, are included on both apps. EasilyDo isn’t a to-do app, though, but 24me is.
24me’s main screen lets you add tasks with a deadline, reminder, and priority flag. You can even add labels (think “tags”) to tasks so that you can find all related tasks with a simple search.
One downside with labels is you can only add one per task. Compared with the much more flexible labels in Evernote, 24me’s one-label limitation seems like an oversight. When asked, the developers said it was indeed intentional, but that in the future support for multiple labels will likely be added.
Task Management, and Then Some
As you add notes, deadlines, labels, and other features to your 24me to-dos, the app makes happy sound effects, simple pops and whizzes that turn up the engagement level just a tad as you swipe to delete or do other gestures. The effects are not so much as to be childish, instead refreshing my interest in the app as I used it.
As mentioned, 24me includes the ability to connect to Task Rabbit (U.S. only), an online marketplace for odd jobs. Just click a pointing hand icon next to your to-do, state your price (after a quick integration with your TaskRabbit account), and you can send out a Task Rabbit job to someone nearby who will pick up your dry cleaning, assemble Ikea furniture, or complete other chores that you’d like to outsource.
Other features include support for dictation, ability to upload images to tasks, an optional PIN code to protect the app (a good idea if you connect to your financial accounts), and good customization options for iPhone app badges and other notifications. 24me also saves all your completed tasks, where you can always go back and find out what you did on a certain day—or you can periodically dump this trash with a “clear all” button.
The main problem I had in using 24me was in connecting with my financial and service accounts, such as Chase Bank and Netflix. 24me offers connectivity to the financial app Pageonce, which wasn’t abundantly clear when I first started using the app. Rather, 24me suggests it can import some of your financial information, like upcoming due dates for credit card bills, itself—the app asks you to join up to the data by using your credit card login info. After you try to log in, the app announces its partnership with Pageonce. Why it doesn’t do that from the beginning, I don’t know.
I still had trouble connecting to my Pageonce account, even after authenticating it, because (as a company rep later explained) I used different email addresses to sign up for 24me and Pageonce. I should think—hope—that it wouldn’t matter, but the app was confused nonetheless and couldn’t connect to Pageonce. Eventually, I changed which email address I had associated with the two accounts so that they matched and was able to connect. I like having my upcoming credit card payments reflected in my to-do app automatically, and 24me even automatically crossed off a due payment from the previous day so I could see it had occurred. But I’m still skeptical at the integration. It needs to be more clear that you’re connecting to Pageonce. 24me needs to be explicit about whether that data coming through it treated as sensitive and private information that it will not use in other ways. And for goodness sakes, it should let you connect to Pageonce no matter what email address you’ve used for that service.
On the Right Track
I like 24me and think it’s heading in the right direction with its approach to create an enhanced task-manager, but it has a way to go. Until it sorts out the complications with Pageonce, explicitly makes clear to users that their financial information is secure, and adds support for multiple labels on any to-do, I’m sticking with my tried and true favorite productivity app Awesome Note (+Todo/Calendar) ($3.99, 4.5 stars).
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc